By the end of Mad Men Season 5, Episode 6: “Far Away Places,” we witnessed the dark side of Don Draper, which will always remain buried, but rears its head when someone digs too deep. But was Don’s predatory behavior towards the end of the episode a sign that finally, in spite of all his efforts, Dick Whitman the Villain has emerged?
Don has always been “draped” in handsomeness, charm, and attitude. As we first learned in Season 1, Episode 12: “Nixon vs. Kennedy,” the real Dick is a clueless coward on the run. His disregard for other people is evident when he and the real Don first jump into the trench in Korea. The ease with which he ripped the gutted Don’s dog tags off and replaced them with his own is pure villain territory.
Now, in 1966, Don made a step towards peace with himself by confessing his dark history (though we doubt he told Megan everything, particularly the part about the dog tags) to his new wife, and having her accept him for who he is. Not since Anna Draper has anyone seen the Dick in him and forgiven all his sins. But Megan has.
And, as we saw in “Far Away Places,” there are risks to knowing both Dick and Don. After Megan asks Don, in the heat of a fight, “Why don’t you call your mother?” everything Don is — cool under pressure, hard-nosed, emotionally shallow, vapid, and nonchalant — broke. He was Dick again. And Dick runs.
When Don got home and had to knock down the barricaded door to his apartment where Megan was literally hiding from him, he didn’t seem like Don at all, who would probably have taken up with another girl at HoJo’s and spent a few days in the middle of a new reverie, like he did in Season 2, Episode 11: “The Jet Set.”
Instead, he terrorized Megan by chasing her around their apartment, trying to corner her, and eventually using his physical strength to dominate her into submission. We suspect that Don’s parental issues were on full display here. Megan became the mother figure he’s always wanted, even though he hates her at the same time for “abandoning” him; he, in turn, mimics his father’s abusive behavior.
But mommy issues aside, is Don an official two-faced villain now? Even The Joker had mommy issues, and so did the Man in Black on Lost. Having a sad backstory doesn’t always make a character sympathetic. Is rooting for Don a lost cause at this point, because he is, simply, a bad person? Or should we still hope for his redemption?
Watch the next episode of Mad Men on Sunday, April 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.
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